Minimum Wage: Labour Fires Back At Governors

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Organised Labour, at the weekend, fires back at state governors, warning them against inflammatory utterances that could set the nation’s industrial space on fire over the new national minimum wage.

It faulted the statement credited to the governors through the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, NGF, that they were working on what individual states could sustainably pay.

Labour contended that the governors must work within the 37-member committee saddled with the responsibility of fashioning out a new national minimum wage for the country.

According to the Organised Labour, it is being magnanimous with N615,000 new minimum wage’ demand because, based on the socioeconomic indices on the ground, it would have demanded much higher which the governors “are more than able to pay”.

Recall that in a statement, last Thursday, by the NGF Chairman and Governor of Kwara State, Alhaji AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, at the end of NGF’s virtual meeting held Wednesday night, the governors said, among others, “As members of the committee, we are reviewing our individual fiscal space as State Governments and the consequential impact of various recommendations, to arrive at an improved minimum wage we can pay sustainably.

“We remain committed to the process and promise that better wages will be the invariable outcome of ongoing negotiations.”

Misquoted

Reacting to the statement, Deputy President of the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC, and President of the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria, ASCSN, Dr Tommy Okon, told Sunday Vanguard, yesterday, that Organised Labour believed the governors were misquoted.

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“They can’t say that they are working on what individual states can pay. I think the governors may be talking about what they can add to the minimum wage at the end of the day because what will be agreed upon is the baseline which nobody should pay less than”, Okon said.

“But they can pay higher than that. I think that is what they are saying.

They cannot be telling us that they are reviewing or setting up a committee to work on what they can pay individually. Two committees cannot be working on the same issue.

“The governors are members of the tripartite committee on the New National Minimum Wage, so they cannot set up another committee or work independently from the tripartite committee set up by the Federal Government.

“Maybe the governors are talking about implementation. It is right for the governors to set up an implementation committee. They need to know their staff’s strengths and sources of funds to implement the new wage
“But to say that they are working on what individual states can pay outside the committee that the Federal Government has set up cannot be correct.

“Do not forget that the governors are members of the tripartite committee set up by the Federal Government. So, they cannot do anything outside the committee.

“If what is reported is correct or if the governors own up to the statement as reported, it is a recipe for serious industrial unrest.


“And no nation can accept that because any nation that works like will face unprecedented industrial unrest and can never grow. No nation grows amid industrial chaos.

“We think the governors will tread with caution and avoid inflammatory utterances. We still believe the statement was not from them.”

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Negotiation table

On its part, Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, declined a response, saying it has made a demand before the tripartite committee on the minimum wage and whatever the governors want to say should be brought to the negotiation table since they are members of the committee on the new minimum wage.

However, an official of NLC, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Sunday Vanguard that the governors are treading on dangerous ground that could set the nation’s industrial space on fire.

“You cannot be talking about reviewing what individual state can pay sustainably outside the committee set up to look out will be the baseline or minimum”, he said. “Whatever opinion you have is what you should bring to the negotiation table. You come to the negotiation table and argue your opinion.

“We do not want to trade words with the governors because they are members.

that this will enable Nigerians understand what propels our demand so that better clarity is made to create better engagement around the ongoing National Minimum Wage Negotiation process.

“A cursory look at the table above shows that we have deliberately removed certain elements from the basket used in calculations of this nature.

“However, it should also be noted that we have not included things like expenditure on calls and data, offerings in churches and Mosques, community dues, entertainment, savings and security etc.

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“These are therefore just for the bare necessities.

”It should be noted that we arrived at this figure before the increase in electricity tariff and the recent scarcity of petrol across the nation leading to the appearance of long queues with attendant increased transport fares.

“Any figure below this amount becomes a starvation wage and condemns Nigerian workers and their families to perpetual poverty.

Commencement date
”We have to remember that the old one has expired on the 18th day of April 2024, and a new one is expected to have come into effect on the 19th day of April 2024. “However, because of the government’s inability to comply with the law that demanded negotiations for a new national minimum wage to have begun six months before the expiration of the existing one, concluding the new one has become unfortunately delayed.

We are sure that our social partners would see our demonstration of understanding, sacrifice and reasonableness in our demands and thus accept this figure without much delay.

“We also enjoin all well-meaning Nigerians to implore the government and employers to meet our demands for the sake of justice, equity and national development.”

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